Fact Check: Putin Did NOT Bomb Cloning Lab in Ukraine -- Story Is From Site That Makes Things Up

Fact Check

  • by: Uliana Malashenko
Fact Check: Putin Did NOT Bomb Cloning Lab in Ukraine -- Story Is From Site That Makes Things Up Made-Up Story

Did Russia bomb "a cloning lab" in Ukraine's Donetsk, occupied by Russia in November 2023? No, that's not true: The website that published the claim relied on a fictitious single source, and that site carries a disclaimer saying it publishes "humor, parody and satire." No credible media organization reported the purported "news."

The claim originated in a article (archived here) published by Real Raw News on November 12, 2023, under the title:

Putin Bombs Cloning Lab in Ukraine

It opened:

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday ordered a cruise missile strike against a Deep State cloning facility in part of the Donetsk region still in Ukraine, FSB agent Andrei Zakharov told Real Raw News.

The strike was conducted by the Admiral Grigorovich, a Russian warship of the Black Sea Fleet, which unleashed a wave of Novator Kalibr missiles that hammered the laboratory, killed the occupants, and unalived clones of U.S. and Russian politicians that were growing in maturation cylinders.

According to Zakharov, the lab held multiple clones of Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump, Marjory Taylor Greene, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, Federal Assembly Chairman Volodin Vyacheslav Victorovich, and Jim Jordan, among other less notable anti-Deep State advocates. Zakharov guessed that 'programmed' clones were meant to replace the actual persons after foul play came to them.

This is what it looked like at the time of writing:

Screen Shot 2023-11-14 at 11.51.38 AM.png

(Source: Real Raw News screenshot taken on Tue Nov 14 15:51:38 2023 UTC)

The story relied on a single source -- a man named Andrei Zakharov supposedly working as an "FSB agent."

FSB stands for the Russian name of the Federal Security Service ("Федеральная служба безопасности"). This is a vertically integrated agency whose employees are not known for being allowed to talk to journalists under their real names to discuss what the government hasn't disclosed. They are even less likely to do so as the Kremlin treats nearly all information about the Russian forces in Ukraine as a state secret and punishes such disclosures with prison terms. As reported by the Russian-language independent media organization Meduza (archived here), the FSB believes that even the open-source information discovered by a foreigner or a foreign organization is a threat to national security.

Had the source been a real person, a hypothetical interview revealing previously unknown authentic facts about the actions of the Russian military in Ukraine would have drawn a lot of media attention to the story.

That is not the case here. A search for similar headlines on Google News (archived here) produced no corroborating results.

The same source -- occasionally being introduced as an employee of the nonexistent "Federal Service Bureau" -- has been cited in many other Real Raw News false claims previously debunked by Lead Stories.

Since the beginning of the full-scale war in February 2022, Russia heavily relied on conspiracy theories about Ukraine to promote the pro-Russian narrative on social media. The now-debunked rumor about fictitious bio labs in Ukraine was one example.

A mention of the Deep State conspiracy in the article that is the focus of this fact check implies that some forces within the United States secretly manipulate the government's decisions to promote some evil agenda. Lead Stories has debunked multiple claims aiming to spot signs of the Deep State's existence.

Real Raw News

Real Raw News has a long history of publishing false claims in mock news stories, many of them about convictions and executions of various public figures at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. For example, the site reported former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was hanged (she wasn't); former White House Chief of Staff John Podesta was executed (he wasn't); and "the military" convicted former Attorney General William Barr on charges of treason (it didn't).

The website for Real Raw News includes a disclaimer that declares the site does not stand by the contents of the stories, calling them entertainment. Specifically, it says:

Information on this website is for informational and educational and entertainment purposes. ... We have included this disclaimer for our protection, on the advice on legal counsel.

Real Raw snip.jpg

(Source: RealRawNews.com screenshot taken Tue Aug 3 16:39:48 UTC 2021)

Lead Stories has covered claims published by Real Raw News in the past. Previous Lead Stories debunks of Real Raw News items is collected here.

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  Uliana Malashenko

Uliana Malashenko is a New York-based freelance writer and fact checker.

Read more about or contact Uliana Malashenko

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